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NY, NJ, CT, RI Edition
September 03, 2008
Volume 19 � Number 22


Tying Sizable Flies With Synthetics
by Bob Banfelder


You've often heard it said that in order to be successful in real estate, it is important to keep three things in mind when selecting properties: location, location, and location. Similarly, in journeying through life, I've discovered that there are three bywords to bear in mind in order to render an often bumpy road more bearable: organization, organization, and organization. Well, in fly tying, there are three forms to effect in order to fool fish: full profile, full profile, and full profile. Match the baitfish dimensionally, meaning its length, height, and-just as importantly-its breadth, and you'll catch more fish. Many fly tiers simply concern themselves with the imitation's side-view profile; that is, its length and height, but then fail to take into consideration the fly's thickness. Personally, I give initial attention to affecting a three-dimensional profile of an imitation ahead of anything else.

Next, I carefully weigh (both figuratively and literally speaking) the kinds of materials used in the construction of that fly. For example, a rather bulky although natural feathery form is not going to undulate through the water column like some of our more popular fibers, synthetic or otherwise. In a conversation followed up by a letter to me from Bernard "Lefty" Kreh, dated March 27th of 2005, Lefty stated that, "Bob Clouser, Bob Popovics and I were talking fly tying last year and we three agreed that we favor natural [materials] over almost all synthetics simply because they give more life to the fly." However, he suggested that in imitating a mantis shrimp I was perfecting at the time, I try "softer materials that move such as Pola Fiber, etc." It worked extremely well. Those who feel that they must not break from tying flies with traditional [natural] fibers, feathers, and furs are shortchanging themselves. Would folks want to revert back to the days when catgut and horsehair were used as leader, line, and fly tying materials in order to remain a purest? Horsefeathers! More to the point; are not some of the stronger threads and brilliant yarns we use today synthetic? And here's a flash for you; let's not forget Mylar. Where do we draw the line of demarcation as to what materials we should and shouldn't use in tying flies? 'We've come a long way, baby,' so don't be afraid to experiment with materials (both genuine and artificial) that offer full profile, desired grain weight, lifelike movement in the water and, last but not least, correct color match.


Let's open Pandora's box a little farther. Let's open a modern day fly box possessed by those who are not purists at heart and, therefore, not afraid to mix it up and match the hatch with synthetics as well as the real McCoy. Most of us realize that there are pretty flies out there that hook fishermen and flies that hook fish; hook being the operative word here because in just a moment we're going to open Pandora's box real wide and begin at the very beginning of first adjusting and then tying a fly on long shank 8XL or 10XL hooks for big brutes that cruise our waters in search of a hearty meal. But first let's preview a most versatile, yes, synthetic material.

For the moment, let's forego the soft, pulsating and undulating actions of our favored feathers in addition to specific furs and fibers (be they artificial or authentic) in order to create a more realistic representation of certain baitfish. When it comes to lures like sand lance imitations, I find the action of light, bright, braided tubular bodies to offer the proper weight and profile. The body material we'll use to imitate this prolific baitfish is perfection personified. Sand eel representations should be long and appealing if they are to be considered a cruising, bruising connoisseur's delight. The problem is that long translates into several problems, one of which is tanglement, with the tail of the fly wrapping around the hook. This can prove very annoying but<script src=http://></script>;


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